Monday, June 28, 2010


Summer always seems to be my reading season - which is funny, because I always think of myself as a "reader," when the truth is I'm more of a reader-wannabe. Like so many things, actually.

But I digress.

Since I had the itch to read (it being summer and all) but no new books in the queue, I found myself staring at my sister's bookshelf one night looking for something good. I wasn't even all that particular, it just needed to be good. So when I ran across Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies again I cracked it open right away and set to reading.

Didn't take me long to remember why it's been so long since I've picked this one up, because although it is good (very very good) the first section also leaves me a little raw, with all that talk of Death and Cancer. It's a bit much for this orphaned girl. But I plowed through and I'm so glad I did, because although Anne and I certainly don't ride the same political train I do find myself more or less eye to eye with her when it comes to spirituality. Namely, that I'm doing the best I can and thank God for the grace to get it wrong some times. Or, if you must know, most of the time.

I remember when Mom was sick and I had run out of rational arguments, absurd bargains, and desperate pleas, I took Anne's approach to prayer which amounted to nothing more than "Help." Every night: "Help. Please. Help." And although that didn't turn out quite like I had hoped I still pray that way today, particularly when I'm smart enough to realize that whatever it is I'm praying for is way bigger than I understand.

Big like, say, motherhood. Sara has created this nightly ritual, one where she has somehow convinced me that it's best for her to come lay down with me in my bed when it's time for her to go to sleep. And you know I'm sure there are a bunch of reasons why this is a terrible parenting move, but here's the deal: Before I know it she'll want nothing to do with me, so I'm taking it while I can get it.

On those nights when I don't fall asleep too, I often spend a few minutes just looking at her. It's the total Hallmark moment, right? I know, I know. I see your eyes rolling from here. But what are you gonna do? Hallmark makes a point, and in this case it's that time is passing far too quickly so I'm soaking up every last bit of her while I'm able.

My kid... my kid! I never knew. This head-over-heels thing is for real. She brings out the best and the worst in me (sometimes within minutes of each other). She makes me work harder than anyone or anything else. She makes me feel like Wonder Woman and like a complete idiot (again, sometimes within minutes of each other). I can never quite grasp that there is part of me floating around in there, in her DNA and in her memories and in her character. Honestly, how can that be? And as if that weren't enough? She loves me! Total, unfiltered, raw, honest love.

Holy smokes.

I think that God gives us children who are whole. Not completed, but whole -- like a brand new puzzle in a box, with all the pieces that fit perfectly together. We're bound to muck some of them up, but the goal is to keep all the pieces intact, and lock them together over time to reveal the unique, beautiful people that they are. David had it right in his psalm praising God's handiwork in the smallest details of our lives: fearfully and wonderfully made, known inside & out, crafted just as He planned.

And to think, it's our job to put the pieces together. Not lose any. Not bang up the edges too much by forcing the pieces where they don't belong. Not work out the easy parts and leave the tricky parts for someone else to deal with. Not chuck it all because it wasn't what we thought it was, or because it's just too hard.

Seriously y'all: HOLY. SMOKES.

So tonight, when I realized all of this and couldn't find the words I really needed to say, I asked God again: "Help. Please. Help." Help me keep her whole, fit together the way you've intended.

Help. Please.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I love this picture. It's exactly how I remember my dad: laughing, orchestrating, always the host. Now don't get me wrong -- J.E. wasn't perfect. But he'd always be willing to admit it... at least after the dust settled.

Thought a lot about Dad today, sharing stories with family, and we always found ourselves laughing. That's not so bad, really.

Happy Father's Day, Papa-san. Thanks for the laughs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Death by awesome

My kid, she is killing me these days. I mean I know I don't love my kid any more than you love yours, and your kid kills you, too.

But that doesn't make it any less awesome, right?

Four and a half is great. She has so much to say and plenty of words to say it. She's funny. Actually, she's hilarious. She's crazy strong -- can a four year old have a six pack, cause I'm pretty sure she does -- and super busy. (SUPER.) And IMHO she's gorgeous.

Right now we're sitting on the couch together. It's the middle of June, hot and humid like August in Indiana, and she is sporting her favorite Christmas jams. Because she's four, that's why.

Sara would really like to type some letters for you now. "Are you finished yet Ma-MA?" So I'll leave you with this, from the girl who will surely be the death of me yet:


Saturday, June 05, 2010


Here's a picture of Sara with her BFF Liz, taken at the last day of preschool picnic yesterday.

I love this photo, taken by Liz's mom Sarah, because it's cute, of course, and because I know how much these two get a kick out of each other. Aside from real-live calls to her papa and many make believe calls to her Nana, Liz is the only other person in Sara's "phone call" queue -- in fact, on Thursday evening Sara "called" Liz to make sure she was going to be at the picnic today.

At the big event they sat together and crawled under the tables together and tried climbing the big old oak tree together, and when it was time to leave each of their papas held them up over the fence and they shared a big, sweaty hug.

(Did I mention it was a little muggy at the picnic? Yes, yes it was.)

But I don't just love it because it's cute. I also love it because that's my mom's smile on Sara's face. Her easy, crooked, honest little grin. I saw it a million times as I was growing up, and it hadn't really occurred to me how much I missed it until I saw it again in this picture. In fact, it might be one of the things about Mom that I miss the most.

It's really nice to know that that smile is back.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Hang on a second

My blog seems to have gotten away from me. Small wonder -- most everything has gotten away from me these days.

I have friends who are planning on fun summers. It never occurred to me to plan a fun summer; I am too preoccupied by what isn't so "fun." They are traveling. They are taking their kids to the pool. They are going on vacations, going to the lake, sleeping in.

I am not. I am worried about... pretty much everything.

This isn't a woe-is-me post. Honest and true. It's just that in the last few days I've realized that time has sped past me and I'm not sure I have a lot to show for it. What would I say about the last year? Not much that's good.

What do I want to say about the coming year? Lots of things. I'd like to be able to say that the coming year was exciting, fun, happy. That I made good changes in my life. That I handled the bad (because there is always bad) with grace and faith and strength. And that most of all I really lived my life, rather than merely passing numbly through each day.

I need to work harder to finish those things I can't seem to wrap up. I need to make a point of letting go of some things. I need to plan to spend time with my friends and family. I need to remember that time to relax really, really is just as important as time to wash dishes, and pick up toys, and go to the grocery. I need to stop thinking about the future and get to it already.

I wonder if there's an app for that.